The Poston Camp

1943 Painting of Poston camp by Kakunen Tsuruoka (Calisphere).

The Poston incarceration camp, or Colorado River Relocation Center, as it was officially entitled, was somewhat controversially located on the Colorado River Indian Reservation in Arizona.  This also meant that it was originally administered by the Office of Indian Affairs, a state of affairs that caused some confusion.  A chart in Sally Lucas Jean’s papers illustrates the chain of command and liaison between the OIA and the WRA.

The Poston camp opened in May 1942 and at its height, held 17,814 incarcerees, chiefly from California but also from southern Arizona.  Famous incarcerees include sociologist Richard Nishimoto, who co-authored some of the most important volumes on the incarceration, musician George Yoshida, and Pfc. Fumitake Nagato, one of the two Japanese American World War II servicemen buried in Arlington Cemetery.

The camp was structured in three sites, dubbed Poston I, II, and III.  The three sites shared some facilities, such as the schools, but each site had its own chicken farm, nursery, and garbage dump.  Like the other camps, it had its own newspaper (the Poston Chronicle).

A monument at the site was unveiled on October 6, 1992, in a ceremony that also honored the twenty-four young men from the camp who died in the armed services during WWII.  Some of the camp’s original adobe buildings are still standing.